A Twisted Victorian Nod To Burning Man

BlackBook has a great story about veteran Burners the Lucent Dossier Experience.


 

re-blogged from Blackbook:

I think I stumbled onto something big. Except I’m two years late. And it’s so esoteric there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of it. It starts off with a flyer. Once you’re committed, you get an e-mail with a street address. Once at the address, a shuttle picks you up and takes you to a warehouse space in downtown LA. For the rest of the night, you’re exposed to a wild event full of freaks, hippies, goths, and everything in between dancing, socializing, and engaging in a number of cabaret/dance/aerial performances. There’s a lot of make-up and costumes, wigs and props. It’s a twisted experience with a nod to the Victorian era and Burning Man. It’s Marie Antoinette gone wrong, Cirque Du Soleil on acid, but also the best thing that ever happened to L.A. nightlife. As producer/perform Dayna Riesgo likes to call it: “It’s a fully immersive experience where vaudeville meets the future dressed as a Victorian Mad Max warrior.” Enter: Lucent Dossier.

Lucent Dossier has been around for almost ten years, producing stage performances of the cabaret variety, traveling around the world, and even entertaining the thousands at Burning Man every year with trippy stylings and, sure, a pinch of crazy. They put together their first large-scale Experience event as an underground party two years ago. It was so successful that they threw another one only two months later, which was busted by the cops. With a proper license, they unfurled their world once again this past weekend. Pre-sale tickets to the show sold out within hours with a maximum occupancy of 470, so they tacked on an extra night, which also sold out. So it only begged the question: what the hell happens at Lucent Dossier?

I arrived around 10 PM, when show time started, with my friend Cat. The warehouse space was as expected—industrial with concrete walls, exposed pipes and beams—but tricked out with laser stage lights and design touches that revisited the mid-1800s. A laundry line of lingerie hung along the beams, a twiggy iron chandelier piece racked high above the dance floor, glittery curtains draped, a loft-style second floor with surprises to come. It was unabashedly theatrical.

lucent dossier

But it’s not the first thing you notice. Cat and I were completely underdressed for the occasion. It was a costume party, or felt like it. There was a lot of fish netting with bare asses, corsets and ballerina slippers, bejeweled and painted faces (thanks to the “Transformation Station” in the corner), top hats and furry vests, feather head dresses, velvet, silver, leather, stilettos, 1920s-style suits, teddies, capes magicians wear, and cloaks that vampires wear. The place was full of theater geeks, neo-ravers, goths, hippies, and what I would like to think was combination of all. Often, we didn’t know the difference between the patrons and the performers, who were also decked out in similar, outrageous period pieces that one would otherwise never wear to, like, The Abbey. Even still, there were “normal” dressers, like skinny-jeaned hipsters, a handful of Asians in J. Crew, a bunch of gays in flannel, sorority girls in high-heels, jocks on MDMA, and real estate brokers with business cards. And somehow it worked. It was a melting pot of scenesters who just let go and be themselves, whoever they might be.

The performances were top-notch with almost a dozen choreographed dance numbers, cabaret, aerialists on rings, and performance art—some comical, some intense. Every ten minutes or so, the dance floor would break apart for these vignettes; then the patrons would gather again when the short show was over. Music ranged from swing to dub step and, again, it just worked. It’s the type of act bars and lounges are trying to deliver in Los Angeles, like the speak-easy style of Pour Vous, a fancy lounge that offers aerialist shows a few times a night. Or even the new Emerson Theatre by SBH, with the cabaret theme weaved into the entire set-up. Lucent Dossier has managed to take all these elements and do it better. A lot better. There was something interesting here, something that felt future-forward and not relying on the past in a gimmicky sort or way. Lucent Dossier was an idea, a statement, a movement. At one point, the host said, “Ladies and gentlemen, everything is a fantasy.” And if fantasy is the future, then they’re on the right track.

lucent dossier

Cat and I left just after midnight, when more shuttle vans were arriving with late-night revelers dressed to the goth nines, and we knew we were going to miss the best part. Turns out they concocted a human sundae: a claw-foot tub full of people. “Lucent Dossier would never work in New York,” she told me when we were dropped off at my car. And she’s right. Only in L.A., but the L.A. of the future, which is, thanks to Lucent Dossier, now.

Original article at BlackBook


 

Burners.Me:

I went to Lucent Dossier‘s sold out New York show at the Liberty Theater on W 41st street at Times Square. Of course it works in New York. They’ve been touring the US this year.

lucent-dossier-experience

If you ever get the chance to see them, jump on it.

 

Let’s Take This Show On The Road

The Man Burns is a play set at Burning Man, to be performed outside Burning Man. The playwright is David Vernon, who grew up in a showbiz family: his dad was the voice of Frosty the Snowman.

It’s quite an interesting vision. For those who may or may not be going to Burning Man this year – perhaps you’re still waiting for tickets – this is an art project you can support, and be a part of, and get to enjoy. You can bring friends and family to it, to give them a taste of Burner culture without making them breathe and bathe in Playa dust. It meets the Burning Man Project’s mission of facilitating the extension of Burner culture through the world, so you can feel all Burnier-than-thou and Ten Principally about backing it too.

It’s a Kickstarter, so if Burners don’t fund it, it won’t get made. Which would be a pity, because it sounds like a fun evening’s entertainment. They’ve hit 10% of their funding goal already, so any support you can give them would be appreciated. For any aspiring actors, young and old, for a mere $350 you can get a part in the production.


 

From Kickstarter:

A BRAND NEW THEATRICAL EVENT THAT BRINGS BURNING MAN TO YOU

THE MAN BURNS is a mystical, joyous theatrical observation on Burning Man and a glimpse into the lives of people who make this epic trek once a year. This interactive play breaks down the walls and gives you a night at Burning Man

This is not a play that will be performed at Burning Man-this will be performed off-playa, in your city, in a theater.

You walk up to the theater to see a performance of a new play, “The Man Burns.”  Out front is an art car playing music and getting the evening going. When you enter the theater the first thing you notice is a group of people gathered around a costume exchange picking out free colorful clothing accessories like a faux fur mantle or a set of glowing devil horns to wear inside the theater. If you brought an extra costume piece you can leave it behind for someone else.

A costume tent at Burning Man. Photo by Layne Kennedy
A costume tent at Burning Man. Photo by Layne Kennedy

Next, you’ll come across an old tiki bar called MAKIMAKI, the kind of bar you might accidentally happen on the esplanade at Burning Man. MAKIMAKI is decorated with well-traveled thrift shop tiki items. The house cocktail is of course, the MAKIMAKI, but there are other playa-themed cocktails as well. And a jar of pickled eggs on the counter.

When you go inside you’ll notice that the theater is decorated like the inside of a Mongolian yurt with beautiful tapestries lining the walls. The play begins. If you’ve never been to Burning Man you will be transported to this far-off, mysterious place. If you’ve been to the playa before you will find yourself back home, in the middle of a conversation about connectivity, overwhelming art, accidental sharts, (or accidental art and overwhelming sharts),  late night poutine and Burning Man urban myths.

During intermission and after the play there might be a marching band or or someone playing jazz songs on their ukelele or grilled cheese sandwiches being handed out. The party will change from city to city because YOU  are the party.

WHY WON’T MY AUNT TILLEY COME TO BURNING MAN?

It’s too hot. It’s overrun by naked hippies. It’s too far away. There are no real showers. It used to be better ten years ago.

Those are some of the reasons I’ve heard from friends and relatives about why they’ll never come to Burning Man. But they love hearing stories about the playa and looking at all the photographs. Selfishly, I thought that by making “THE MAN BURNS” an interactive night with some fun, exciting elements of Burning Man, I could give all of my friends a Burning Man night. And you can too. Everyone has at least 5 friends or relatives who say they’ll never go. Bring them to see “THE MAN BURNS” and share the experience with them.

Author of The Man Burns, David Vernon
Author of The Man Burns, David Vernon

My name is David Vernon and I grew up in a show biz family. My dad was a comedian and the voice of Frosty the Snowman. I spent my childhood backstage at The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show and wondering why my father was never the “Secret Square” on The Hollywood Squares. I also grew up with a love of story. I would read a play then perform them with my sisters Barbies. In fact, her Barbie dream house was redressed many times and became the set for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”  Eventually, I took my love of story to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU where I studied Film and TV.

I have been a professional writer for the past twenty years.  I’ve written short fiction (which has been widely anthologized), screenplays (a film I wrote, “The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and  was released by Regent films.)  I was recently commissioned to write three short scripts for an upcoming feature film anthology about the city of Berlin by the producers of “New York, I Love You.”  I’ve written essays on Salon (http://www.salon.com/2000/12/20/frosty/ …I didn’t know it at the time but all of these projects and jobs were training grounds for my most challenging and exciting project to date.

THE STORY

A whiteout is announced at Burning Man over the radio.  People are warned to take shelter. Within moments several strangers run into a Mongolian yurt to get away from the wind storm.

photo by Ian Norman
photo by Ian Norman

The strangers include: ANDY and BUNNY EARS, a gay couple that own the Mongolian Yurt and were preparing for a hot sexual encounter with someone they met on the playa. FIREFLY, a virgin burner who just dropped her first ever hit of MDMA and was on her way to a dance club, PERSEPHONE, an Australian sci-fi actress looking for a ride share to Venice Beach after having another disappointing day on the playa, MOWGLI, a bouncy, energetic young guy dressed entirely in blinky lights who communicates only through motion, MARY ANIMALS, a 60 year old woman who comes to Burning Man on her own and sets up a coffee stand (with the worst coffee on the playa), that is destroyed in the white out, and an ex-marine with an unfortunate sense of direction, known as McRIB, who is dressed in a sketchy Ronald McDonald outfit who was on his way to fight at Thunderdome but got lost.

McRib
McRib

The result is some funny chaos as these characters, and a few others, spend the evening connecting, disconnecting, arguing, and telling their Burning Man stories; some heartbreaking, some extraordinary.

INSPIRATION

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince

I’ve been going to Burning Man for the past eleven years and have also been active in the Burner community. During that time I’ve witnessed many fascinating Burning Man stories unfold in front of me. I’ve also met  so many fascinating and unique individuals. Their stories inspired me to write “THE MAN BURNS.”

The people who go to Burning Man travel a great distance and experience great joy, and sometimes hardship in search of….what exactly? A unique vacation? An opportunity to meet like-minded people? A chance to become part of something bigger than ourselves…part of an artistic experiment? After years of taking notes,  I became passionate about writing a play that explored these questions.

For many people, “THE MAN BURNS” might be the closest they come to attending Burning Man. For others it might be their first introduction to this amazing place. For Burners, I hope the play might be a catalyst for them to further discuss their own experiences and stories.

Photo by Lindsey Sterrett
Photo by Lindsey Sterrett

…I decided to rededicate myself to only telling stories that mattered–to me, and hopefully to others. I wanted to dream big–bigger than ever before. The concept for THE MAN BURNS came to me about a week later. And this has been my dream ever since.

Early artist rendering of THE MAN BURNS set
Early artist rendering of THE MAN BURNS set

I have been developing the story and working on “THE MAN BURNS” for the past three years.There is still more work to be done to get the play up and running…I will be counting on the passion of tight knit community of artists to help bring this dream alive on a limited budget.

Any money raised beyond my goal will pay for more faux fur rugs. I’m only half joking. The design of the inside of the yurt is based on I Dream of Jeannie’s bottle and needs to be as ornate as possible. And more tapestries to decorate the set. And more fake playa dust to fly through the yurt door whenever someone opens it. It will also be used to give the creative team more options to create a bigger, better evening. We would also be able to perform the play for more than one night in each city. We’d like to put more items on the clothes exchange rack. And more importantly, paying the creative team a little better for all of their hard work. All of the money will be up their on the stage. So if you can afford to donate generously, please do. The more money the more elaborate the production.

Photo by Mick Jeffries
Photo by Mick Jeffries

I’ve written the play. …Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition–if I don’t reach my goal I don’t receive any of the funds donated. This is a dream that can’t happen without you.

photo by Lindsey Sterrett
photo by Lindsey Sterrett

Burning ‘Bob’: Cacophony, Burning Man, and the Church of the SubGenius

by Whatsblem the Pro

The Holy Seal of the Church of the SubGenius -- Image: CotSG

The Holy Seal of the Church of the SubGenius — Image: CotSG

As our regular readers will recall, Whatsblem the Pro attended the shenanigans at the Castro Theater in San Francisco last weekend, where Chicken John Rinaldi’s Institute of Possibility staged an unauthorized guerrilla book signing to celebrate the release of TALES OF THE SAN FRANCISCO CACOPHONY SOCIETY.

After being trapped in the theater and subjected to some sort of experiment at the hands of amateur scienticians, Whatsblem awoke, his memory mostly a blank, but his phone filled with unusual pictures, videos, and audio recordings.

I haven’t slept since I woke up in that alley in Reno after the Cacophony Society “book signing.” My hands shake as I pick up my mug to gulp down yet another sour mouthful of black coffee, but I dare not sleep until the work is done. My phone is full of weird and mostly inexplicable artifacts documenting the time I spent drugged and under some kind of alien control at the Castro Theater, and I know that I must warn the people of this planet of the horrors that threaten them from every side (but mostly from the in-side). The lingering after-effects of the drug are terrifying all by themselves: existential warts, intense olfactory hallucinations, fleeting involuntary glimpses into the raw minds of passing strangers. I look down, and see that my body is covered in sores and boners.

Among the relics of my induced fugue state I discover an audio recording in which I can hear my own voice – though weirdly altered – and another voice I recognize immediately: Ivan Stang, nominal head of the obscure religious cult known as the Church of the SubGenius. A careful listening reveals the identity of the other speaker as Philo Drummond, co-founder of the Church. Dr. Hal Robins, reputedly the true brains behind not just the Church of the SubGenius, but the Freemasons, the Trilateral Commission, the Rosicrucians, the Raptor Conspiracy, Opus Dei, and even the dreaded Fearrington Homeowner’s Association, was apparently lurking nearby.

Read on, if you dare.

Image: CotSG, via Jack T. Chick

Image: CotSG, via Jack T. Chick

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Philo, how do you draw the Venn diagram between the Church of the SubGenius, the Cacophony Society, and Burning Man?

PHILO DRUMMOND: I would say they all represent a certain counterculture perspective that is an eccentric perspective, and then there’s a lot of pranksterism and creativity involved. That’s probably a good overlap, if you were to draw the diagram of intersecting circles.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So it comes down to pranks.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Yes.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: I think that’s a very major, possibly even main artery of burner culture, but it’s under constant assault by people who think Burning Man is a hippie festival, who go out there thinking it’s all about peace ‘n’ love. Do you struggle with that at all within the Church? I mean, not necessarily peace ‘n’ love types, but people coming in with assumptions about what you’re doing that aren’t necessarily valid or accurate?

PHILO DRUMMOND: Oh, we already knew in advance there would be those kinds of people. Any organization attracts those kinds of people. We tried it minimize it from the beginning by positioning ourselves as an organization of non-joiners, people who don’t want to be part of another organization. That helped limit it; it kept those people out of it.

The joiners that join – versus the non-joiners that join – they stand out like a sore thumb. We call them ‘Bobbies.’ Their money is green, and we like that about them, but they’re still, y’know. . .

Philo Drummond -- Photo: SubGenius.com

Philo Drummond — Photo: SubGenius.com

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Pink-souled?

PHILO DRUMMOND: Pink-souled. Yes.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So they become a resource, really, and don’t do you any harm.

PHILO DRUMMOND: They don’t really do us any harm, no, except as part of the Conspiracy. . . but that’s what they are by default. They’d be part of the Conspiracy whether they joined us or not.

So yes, I think we have some of the same challenges as Burning Man, just not from a physical perspective; whatever it was, it isn’t the same thing now. . . but Burning Man has that continuity: it’s in the same place. People going out there and thinking that they have freedom.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: All the trappings of an Autonomous Zone, without the messy autonomy.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Right. It’s not autonomy out there. . . but it’s fun to think that it is. We like to fool ourselves into different types of allegorical scenarios, it’s fun to do that. We think we’re in this free society. It’s fun to think like that, like you can just go out there and do whatever you want, and everything’s going to be great.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: We have a lot of people who really guzzle the kool-aid and start thinking that the ten principles were handed down from God to Moses to Larry Harvey. They turn into burnier-than-thou “burner lawyers” on the Internet, chiding people about how they live because it doesn’t fit with their interpretation of this list of rules they’ve decided is sacred. Do you see that kind of thing happening in the Church as well? Is there actual Church dogma that. . . well, does anyone take any of it too seriously?

PHILO DRUMMOND: Oh yeah, there are wikis out there that try to take the Church apart. There are even college courses that try to dissect the Church and figure out what its true philosophical implications are, what its contribution is, from a cultural expansion perspective.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Given that art is sort of something that occurs in between the artist and the audience, what do you think of that?

PHILO DRUMMOND: SubGeniuses always like to blur that; they like to think of the audience and the artist as co-participants in a performance. The best SubGenius events are the ones where the audience is a full participant, or even transforms into the performance while the performers become the audience.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Very much a punk rock aesthetic as well. . . erasing the barriers between the stage and the crowd.

PHILO DRUMMOND: We actually had a band of about seven or eight individuals, and we’d invite members of the audience up to take over the instruments until we’d replaced every member of the band with members of the audience. . . without stopping the song! And so now the band is in the audience, the audience is on stage, and the song is evolving into something completely different and new from what it was.

Ivan Stang -- Photo: Scott Beale

Ivan Stang — Photo: Scott Beale

IVAN STANG: I remember once sitting back with you, and we were feeling so proud because we’d finally done that successfully. We had left the stage, and everyone else was taking over.

PHILO DRUMMOND: That was a great experiment. We didn’t know those people on the stage personally, but we were like “that’s OUR band up there. We MADE that band!”

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So what has it been now, thirty-one, thirty-two years of the Church of the SubGenius?

IVAN STANG: Thirty-three years since Pamphlet #1 was published. I actually picked it up from the printers on January 2nd of 1980, so it’s really easy to date that stuff. . . although Philo first told me about ‘Bob’ a couple of years before that. It just took a while to figure out the right approach for public outreach.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Is there a bit of Philo T. Farnsworth in the mix? “An experimental television of his own design,” etc.?

IVAN STANG/PHILO DRUMMOND: No, no, no.

PHILO DRUMMOND: But television did figure largely in the whole Emaculation of the ‘Bob’ thing.

IVAN STANG: The number two man in the Illuminati, after Adam Weishaupt, was this guy named Philo Knigge.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Sort of. They had secret names. . . Adam Weishaupt’s secret Illuminati name was ‘Spartacus,’ and this guy Baron von Knigge had the secret name ‘Philo,’ after Philo Judaeus.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: That’s very telling, actually. I mean, aren’t we all Spartacus?

IVAN STANG: No, I’m Spartacus!

PHILO DRUMMOND: I’m Spartacus!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: I’m Spartacus!

PHILO DRUMMOND: He’s– no wait, I’M Spartacus!

IVAN STANG: We’re Spartacus!

[FIFTEEN MINUTES OF A ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE SHOUTING “I’M SPARTACUS” ENSUE]

Photo: CotSG

Photo: CotSG

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So tell me straight. . . is it still fun?

IVAN STANG: Oh yeah, yeah! Although, I’ll tell you, I have as much fun being part of the Church of the SubGenius now as, as. . . actually, I spend about half my time now debunking the Church of the SubGenius. Or rather–

PHILO DRUMMOND: Trying to get the lies out of Wikipedia.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So, “re-bunking?”

IVAN STANG: The Wikipedia article is fine, except that they keep taking your name out, and I keep not putting it back in.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Not MY name; my Conspiracy name. They keep taking my Conspiracy name out.

IVAN STANG: Yeah, he wanted his Conspiracy name in there for some reason, and every time he puts it in, somebody comes along and takes it out. I fixed it once, but they keep taking it out and I keep forgetting to take care of that. I’m not a very good Sacred Scribe after all.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: There’s Truth with a capital ‘T’ and there’s truth with a small ‘t,’ and I think you’ve told the Truth with a capital ‘T’ here in these books, and they’re trying to tell the small-‘t’ version in the media.

IVAN STANG [sarcastically]: Yeah, and look how it’s selling! I brought four copies of THE BOOK OF THE SUBGENIUS and there’s still four copies sitting here!

PHILO DRUMMOND: Truthish. They’re sort of truthish.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: They have a certain truthiness.

IVAN STANG: They’re truthier than they used to be because they now finally have the Cleveland address in them.

PHILO DRUMMOND [holding up samples of sacred Church art]: These were designed to be xeroxed onto sticker paper so you could cut ’em out and lick ‘n’ stick.

IVAN STANG: Sticker paper costs too much. They’re still in the membership pack, but you have to bring your own Scotch tape. Sad.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: What else do you guys do? Have you got other projects going on?

PHILO DRUMMOND: Other projects. . .?

IVAN STANG: Actually, I’ve got a SubGenius movie script and a SubGenius video game concept, and we did do another whole book in 2006, the Bobliographon.

PHILO DRUMMOND: It’s just too easy to do anything you want to do, and then hang the SubGenius banner on it.

IVAN STANG: I actually spend a third of my year now hiking in national parks and then mailing this crap out from hotel rooms at night.

Buttons for 'Bob'

Buttons for ‘Bob’

PHILO DRUMMOND: Putting stickers on stuff.

IVAN STANG: Honest to God, my wife is retired and gets a pension, and as long as I keep mailing this crap, which I can do from the Internet as we travel around, well. . . I’m kind of partying my ass off, basically, after wasting my youth really working myself into illness on this stuff. Now I’m resting on my laurels and getting all the slack I deserve. . . but! There are all kinds of projects in the works; it’s just that we’re slow. We were always very, very slow. It’s ten years between those two books, and then the next book. . .

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: I was kind of thinking of stuff like HIGH WEIRDNESS BY MAIL. I mean, I’m a member of the Flat Earth Society and have been for decades because of that book.

IVAN STANG: Well, the Internet kind of made that a redundant thing.

PHILO DRUMMOND: It wasn’t as overt, as far as being a SubGenius thing, you’re right about that.

IVAN STANG: You know what, though? It was really hard to be that sarcastic, it really was. When I was finished with that, I did not want to badmouth anybody’s religion again. In fact, that’s when I started badmouthing ours much more seriously.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: There’s precedent for that too. . . “if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.

Pro Tip: Nuke Buddha from orbit -- Photo: CotSG

Pro Tip: Nuke Buddha from orbit — Photo: CotSG

PHILO DRUMMOND: That’s right.

IVAN STANG: Yeah, that was one of the first lines we ripped off. That was Philo’s thing, “if you meet Bob on the highway, kill him.”

PHILO DRUMMOND: We’ve killed ‘Bob’ so many times now, it’s amazing. It just seemed natural.

IVAN STANG: We do X-Day every year, and I do a new radio show every week, and he does a new radio show every week, so it’s not like we’re not doing anything. . . and a weekly radio show is a son-of-a-bitch!

Dr. Hal does TWO weekly shows.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: What a marvelous brain you must have. The three of you, I mean, together. Like, in a jar somewhere or something.

IVAN STANG: Yeah, if only Dr. Hal didn’t keep all the good parts for himself. He’s got most of ’em. . . but I’ve got the dick, and one of the balls.

[shouting] BUG PORN, ONE DOLLAR!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Do you think there might be another revelation in the works? Something that might change the whole game?

IVAN STANG: There will be an announcement this summer at X-Day that will rock the Church.

PHILO DRUMMOND: It will rock the Church, that’s right.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Are you having X-Day in New York again?

IVAN STANG: No, we’ve moved it to Wisteria Campgrounds, in southern Ohio. It was in very rural New York. . . X-Day is always in a place that is very hard to get to–

PHILO DRUMMOND: And hard to endure.

IVAN STANG: It’s not like a sci-fi convention.

All aboard! -- Image: CotSG

All aboard! — Image: CotSG

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Is it growing every year?

IVAN STANG: No, it’s shrinking– or yes, it’s growing by one person every year. In 1998, like four hundred people showed up. . . and right after that, our business dropped by half, which made me think that maybe half of the people believed it, and were so disappointed afterward that they want away. So it’s like, that’s good, that we got rid of those assholes. Now, the real diehards come and wait for the saucers every July 5th.

It’s the only time of the year that I have to get up early. That one day of the year, July 5th, I have to get up at like six in the morning and go to work from like seven to seven-thirty. Then we go back to bed.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Until July 6th.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: Do you feel some kinship with the Reverend Dr. Harold Camping over all this?

IVAN STANG: Well, really, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a longer track record of failed ends of the world than anybody, and they haven’t quit, so. . . one of our slogans is “we’re not going to let the Jehovah’s Witnesses out-kook us.”

PHILO DRUMMOND: Plus, we don’t necessarily think of failure as something to be sad about. It’s a learning experience. Failure is just success’s way of telling you that you’ve made a mistake.

IVAN STANG: We like to think of it as involuntary slack. If you lose your job, the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’ll get another job.

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: There’s a bright side, too: you might not. . . and you don’t have to go to work the next day in any case.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Yeah, that is the bright side!

WHATSBLEM THE PRO: So maybe, sometimes, if you succeed while you were aiming at something you only think you wanted, your success means that you’ve failed.

PHILO DRUMMOND: Yes. Ordinary paradigms of success are highly over-rated. Turn those high hurdles into low hurdles!

IVAN STANG: We tell ourselves that a lot, anyway. . . actually, I wouldn’t mind having millions of bucks. Then again, I’m already living the same way I would if I did have millions of bucks, aside from some of the little things. I’d still wash my own car. I assemble these membership packs myself; I’d still do that. There are thirty pieces that go into one of these things; you would think I’d have some Chinese kids doing it for me, but I actually do it myself, and – honest to God – it’s the only time that I get to listen to music.

PHILO DRUMMOND: You two will have to have more Chinese kids.

IVAN STANG: I was saying to my wife one day “Christ, I don’t want to be doing this when I’m sixty years old,” – which is this August, by the way – and she said “why not?”

And it sunk in. I really shouldn’t complain; once a month I have to assemble a hundred of these, and I spend about an hour a day filling orders, and I have to do the radio show. . . but that’s it! I can sit around in my house in my underwear; I’d be listening to music if I wasn’t deaf.

[At this point the recording becomes unintelligible as Philo begins recommending various footwear options – mainly clown shoes – for working in a home office setting]

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Ivan Stang delivers a rant on the subject of ‘Bobbies’ diluting and corroding the Church of the SubGenius, circa 1985:

SubGenius commercial from MTV, circa 1991: